Friday, October 23, 2009

Random Shots: The Players Really Are The Heroes

  • Rant mode is on. You have been warned. And without me cussing, by the way. I'm showing a great deal of restraint all things considered.

  • I recently read an excellent post over at Wolfshead Online where he sounded the call to arms over scaling MMO content. It's a cause I can very much support. Scaling content would do so much to prevent the endgame from splintering into the weird permutations we see today. It's not so easy as he seems to imply, but it's not the insurmountable challenge so many developers make it out to be. Some future game will get the idea right, then someone else will steal the idea and put it in a better game, and everyone will argue about whether it matter who was first, but eventually we'll have an endgame for everyone from soloers to large guilds.

  • All this was going along well until I saw this:
    To further illustrate the epic villain problem I present to you Arthas. When the dastardly Lich King is defeated by the first guild sometime in 2010, only 25 players will be required. Just think about how preposterous that reality will be: a mere 25 players will be able to vanquish the Lich King — up till now the most powerful being in the Warcraft universe.

  • I'm picking on Wolfshead here because this is the most recent example, but this is a sentiment that has been shared across the MMO blogging community. But the problem is that this idea is idiotic. Let's take a look at what the players who will be vanquishing the Lich King will have accomplished before setting their purple named boots into Icecrown Citadel. Such a player will have:
    • defeated the children of Deathwing: Onyxia and Nefarian;
    • banished Ragnaros, the Firelord;
    • overcome Illidan as well as his lieutenants, Lady Vashj and Kael'thas Sunstrider;
    • laid the smackdown on Malygos, the leader of the Blue Dragonflight;
    • completely wasted two of the Old Gods, C'Thun and Yogg-Saron;
    • knocked the heck out of Kel'Thuzad (potentially twice);
    • thwarted the summoning of Kil'jaeden, the leader of the Burning Legion;
    • as well as obliterated so many trolls that I have trouble believing there are any trolls left in the world.

  • So, yeah, I'd love to take part in a 200-man raid to take down Arthas. However, 25 heroes of World of Warcraft caliber should be plenty for the task.


  1. I understand both points, and I would agree more with Wolf. But, what I think would be better is what if Arthas is only defeated, banished somewhere with the possibility of being used at some other point. Blizz has pretty much rewritten the Warcraft lore, so I don't think this would be so out there.

  2. @ Jayedub - Blizzard has some leeway with where they can take the final confrontation. If there is some redemption to be won for Arthas, I think it would be cool. Well, Patch 3.3 is just around the corner. We shall discover where they take the story soon.

  3. I'm betting on the "redemption" thing.

    I think you make a really good point - a side to the argument I'd never really given a fair shake to. Make that two "columnists" (the other being Glenn Greenwald) who pretty much won me over to another point of view on an opinion I'd thought was pretty secure in my mind.

  4. @ CMK - Thanks. I wonder if my distance on the issue comes from the fact that I've never played Warcraft 3. (Hate, hate, hate RTSes.) So I never had an attachment to the lore other than what WoW has presented me. A lot of people seem to have been fans of that game first and don't appreciate their WoW characters becoming the heroes of the story, displacing all the characters they enjoyed before.

  5. I agree with Anjin here. Single player RPGs are lacking, because you cannot form your fellowship of the ring, your Avengers or any other group of heroes.

    And when I found a game that allowed me to do that (WoW), I'm told that I'm a simple soldier because there are 20.000 players per server.

    But for me there aren't more than 10, 20, or the number of people I play with or know. I coud envision the PuGgers as the red shirts in Star Trek (even if I respect loot rules and treat them respectfully). And as an old school PnP roleplayer I think a compromise has to be made: we are not the grunts WoW want us to be, and we are not the gratest heroes of the universe for shuttin off ALL those beacons XD.

    A little bit of heroism would benefit the storytelling in MMOs.


  6. @ Juan Antonio - I'm glad that I'm not the only one who plays MMOs that way. Some games do a better job than others at reinforcing that feeling, but they really aren't bad at it.